Million Women Rise: Please contact us by Saturday at the latest if you are interested in a group booking for the megabus down to London for MWR. The plan at the moment is the 6.50 bus down and the 4.30 bus back, which at the moment will cost about ¬£20. If you going down anyway let us know and we’ll arrange a place to meet as well.

Toy collection for Northern Refugee Centre: If you have any unwanted, but in good condition toys that you would like to donate please let us know by 22nd March. either email in or call Jude on 01142 660434. Ideally we are looking for toys for all ages, that are easy to keep clean and appropraite (ie no guns or anything violent), items such as jigsaws and puzzles are especially welcome!

We are currently investigating a couple of venues that might be more suitable in terms of disabled access, but, as usual, any suggestions are always welcome.

A reminder about Women in Black, 7th march, the War Memorial 1-2pm, wear black. The focus for this month will be on Africa. Jude will be telling us more about this event next week.

There is a protest on Friday (27th) at 3.45 against the proposed station barriers, starting at the city hall moving down to the station. Details here.

Good news… WH Smith have apparently stopped selling Playboy stuff! At the moment it’s all on sale, and we hear that they won’t be replacing the stock. However, Superdrug and Argos are still selling it so we will still be campaigning against it! 28th March will be a day of action on this. (Planning for this will be 17th March, and both the meeting and the day of action are open to everybody.)

Sexism in Universities. We are looking for speakers, if you are interested or know of someone who may be, let us know. It looks likely this event will be either 13th or 20th of May, we should be able to confirm this next week.

News from the meeting:

We’re still looking into changing the venue of meetings, to somewhere with disabled access. The University Arts Tower was suggested, as it should be free to book on the lecture theatres and there shouldn’t be any problems with needing to sign people in either. However it might isolate the group from non-student members. We are also going to look into the Quaker Meeting house in the city centre which would be a much more accesible venue for everyone, not just students. If anybody has any other suggestions, send us a postcard to the normal address!
We also talked about changing the structure of the meetings slightly so we meet downstairs in the bar of University Arms for a social drink first, so that everyone gets to know each other and it is welcoming to new members. This will partly be dependent on whether we change venues or not as well, of course.

There might be a conference/ day workshop at the University soon on Feminism in Sheffield soon. More details to follow if it takes place.

Finally, Sunday is the Sheffield University women’s party. Some of us will probably be there with some Sheffield Fems flyers and things, so if you’re a female Sheffield student, we might see you there.
From the discussion – Women and War – some things to think about were:

  • Some history/ information about Women’s Internation League for Peace and Freedom, which is one of the oldest peace groups, formed in 1915, 2 members have won the Nobel Peace Prize and they have offices at the U.N but also opperate on a local level around the world.
  • Women and children now make up the majority of victims of war, as war is no longer resigned to the battlefields
  • Women in the military- do they play a more supportive role than an active one? The military is still a male/ patriarchical system, will the presence of women change this?¬† How can women change such a regimented system?
  • In Palestine, the conflict there has resulted in a change in the status of women (a slight improvement, but groups like Hamas would like to reverse this)
  • Is joining the army a gendered issue? How does the supression of the individual effect women? And what about the squaddie culture – does it put women off? Do you have to go along with all these things to succeed in the military?
  • Apparently there has been a big increase in the number women joining the army, and there are good childcare facilities and maternity leave and little sexual harassment- is this the result of law changes or the presence of women? Is there are culture of silence (and would it be harder to speak out against sexual harassment in the miliarty then in a normal job?)

We also made some plans for an event to tie in with Reclaim the Night on 22nd November:
We are going to be in the city centre during the day (we talked about going to West Street in the evening but it was decided that no one would pay any attention as it’s a Saturday night!), with flyers and placards¬† about domestic violence statistics. We going to try and contact the local press etc. to get some publicity as well.
Next week, Tuesday 18th we’re going to be making the placards and sorting out flyers… come along, bring pens, card etc etc! This was going to be a social meeting, so we will probably go on to another pub afterwards as well.

We are still trying to find a new place to meet that has disabled access. Currently we meet upstairs in the University Arms which has no disabled access at all, although we keep being told they are working on it! (Personally I think they need a good kick up the arse on this because they’re been saying that for a while now and nothing has changed!!!)

However there are certain limitation on where we can meet as well…

A lot places charge to book rooms which we just can’t afford! Any fundrising we do we want to be using for campaigns and charities not just on booking a room (and some of them are really expensive)

It has been suggested several times that we use the Student’s Union building. We are a university group so would be entitled to book rooms, but we are also open to none student and the union building is not open to the public in the evenings (it is possible to sign people in) and we don’t want to alienate none students either! There maybe the possibility of booking Coffee Revolution, but this again does require that it ‘makes money’ and if that means that we have to guarantee a certain amount of sales this could be a problem (I’m going to investigate this)

So we need to find somewhere free, but we would also, ideally like to find somewhere with a more relaxed atmosphere as we have found that this results in more welcoming and relaxed meetings, which is important to us. Particularly when we have new members or are discussing sensitive issues we have found that atmosphere is important and sterile meetings rooms can be rather intimidating. Equally we do need a private room. For a while we met in the downstairs bar area of the University Arms and found that we weren’t able to have open discussions and debate or even hear each other half the time!

This is an issue that is discussed fairly regularly in meetings but one we are yet to resolve! Trying to find the balance of a venue that is accesible and welcoming to all and will not take all our money is really not as easy as it should be. Please let us know if you have suggestions either through the website or through email (I shall apologies in a advance if I forget to the reply to emails, I have a mind like a sieve! I do read all the emails and all points are taken on board, but sometimes I forget to reply. *Sorry*) and feel free to contact the University Arms and tell them to hurry up with the disabled access!